Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Three C's of Business

A long time ago, I used to own a number of weekly newspapers, one of which I started from scratch, and with the success of that enterprise was able to parlay into purchasing a building, my own presses, a complete print shop, four other weeklies and a world of headaches.

Nonetheless, when I was in my entrepreneurial heyday, I was often asked what had gotten me to my level of success. There really were a variety of correct answers, but mostly my drive, desire and commitment to become a viable media player were the factors which got me from nowhere to somewhere better.

At one point, I came up with the idea of the Three Cs for business success. They actually relate to just about any field of business endeavor, and I rediscovered them deep in my subconscious just last night over a couple of beers.

The Three Cs for Business Success:

Confidence - This is probably the most important and frequently overlooked factor in one's business life. A confident person is one who walks with his or her head high, beaming with enthusiasm about what they are doing. Confidence can wane or rise, depending on a wide number of factors. Everything from your sex life to cloudy weather contributes to your overall psychological makeup, and it's important to keep an eye on one's own confidence level because in life, as in business, others can sense desperation, apathy and all the other malevolent emotions which can lower one's self-esteem.

Oddly enough, we may not even know when our own confidence is lacking, but, sure enough, others can sense it. Some ways to keep your confidence high is to take on tough tasks at work or even in your own sphere. I actually build my confidence by doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, those oriental numbers puzzles that have become all the rage of the latte and newspaper crowd. Just recently, I began doing Sudoku because I thought I couldn't. After struggling with the first medium level puzzle over a number of failed attempts, I finally set my mind to it and got it. Now I scream through Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Every time I successfully complete one, my confidence - that I can do anything if I set my mind to it - grows. Yours can too.

Competence - With every task in life, one must be prepared and have the proper tools with which to complete the task. A plumber without wrenches or a carpenter without a saw could not do a professional job, thus, the need for the right tools in the hands of a competent craftsman. Business is no different. The mor one knows about a particular line of work, the better he or she can become at it. You wouldn't go into a real estate negotiation if you were a product line manager for soft drinks, would you? Knowing your field of endeavor and working at it until you become highly skilled is an invaluable asset in business. Competent workers, managers or executives are difficult to find, and, usually, because they are often bright and have entrepreneurial instincts, are equally difficult to please and/or keep as employees.

Cash - You can't do much of anything without money. You could have the greatest ideas on the planet, but without the means to market them - meaning mostly money - those ideas will wither and die on the vine like overripe grapes in the sun. The saying, "cash is king" is almost always true. Cash gets better deals, better terms, and is respected the world over. A person with a sizable cash position can accomplish almost anything, especially the means by which to acquire more cash. Having a strong cash position cannot be understated. Cash does not have to deal with flat-headed bankers, testy suppliers or drawn-out negotiations. Cash, when it is used as a means to obtain credit, proves itself even more valuable. A person with $100,000 need not spend it on what he or she wants, but can use it as collateral on a loan of the same amount, and once creditworthiness is established, even more and at lower interest rates.

People with substantial amounts of cash generally don't bother with credit unless there's a definite advantage to keeping one's cash in hand, which often there is, especially on larger deals. If you want respect in the business community, pay with cash, have a large amount of cash on hand at all times and deals and offers will find you.


In the markets today, stocks were all the rage, as the major indices bounced back from Friday's down day. Investors looked right past Citigroup's horrifyingly large loan losses toward the health care sector, where the Massachusetts senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy was trending toward the Republican in the race, Scott Brown, who held a narrow lead in the polls over Democrat Martha Coakley. Voting ends at 8:00 pm ET. The significance is that if Brown wins, the democrats will no longer have a super-majority (60 seats) in the senate, and the year-long battle to push through health care reform - which is hated from almost all sides - may go up in smoke and signal a strong victory for not just the Republican party, but for democracy in general.

Dow 10,725.43, +115.78 (1.09%)
NASDAQ 2,320.40, +32.41 (1.42%)
S&P 500 1,150.23, +14.20 (1.25%)
NYSE Composite 7,443.68, +86.89 (1.18%)

Advancing issues beat down decliners, 4847-1550, a better-than 3:1 ratio. There were 573 new highs to just 62 new lows, though volume was moderate.

NYSE Volume 5,194,738,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,079,933,000

Oil managed a gain of just 5 cents, to $78.05, while natural gas fell 11 cents, to $5.54. Milder weather and a glut of energy supplies are beginning to kick in as Winter progresses. Without anything upon which to slap up higher prices besides the idea that certain large energy conglomerates want to make more money, energy prices should continue to decline into Spring.

Not so with the metals, though, as they had another banner day. Gold gained $10.00, to $1,140.50. Silver was up 37 cents to $18.80, the highest closing price since December 4, 2009, and close to the 21-month high of $19.18.

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